In 1986, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger designated April as Month of the Military Child. As part of this month-long celebration, local communities are invited to take part with activities to recognize our military children. Plan now for how you can celebrate these special kids and work with your staff, parent organization, and booster club. Here are a few suggestions on how your school can participate and truly celebrate the Month of the Military Child.
1. Show Your Support of the Military - Purple Up!
Purple is the official color of military kids. Why? It is a mix of all the colors of all the branches of the military–Air Force blue, Army green, Navy blue, Marine red, and Coast Guard blue are thought to combine together as purple. Use this color to theme your celebrations for April.
Use your website to sell Purple Up spirit wear. You can even have a t-shirt design contest and award the winner with their design on the shirt! Families and students are encouraged to wear these shirts (or anything purple) every Friday in April to show support.
You can also make purple ribbons for each military child in the school and place them along the lunchroom wall as a beautiful reminder and decoration.
2. Popsicles in the Park
Invite students to meet on the playground after school or on an early release day for popsicles (purple ones, naturally). Make sure to include all students and not just military kids. The purpose of highlighting these children during April is to build community with those that may not know what military life is like.
3. Bulletin Board
Use a centrally located bulletin board to highlight military kids and their families. Ask them to send in pictures with their parent in uniform, or photos from a favorite duty station. Leave it up all month so any visitors can stop by and take a look.
Include a world map and have military kids place stickers on places they have lived. This is a great visual and can start some cool conversations–“Wow! You lived in Japan?”
4. Active Duty Mystery Readers
Work with teachers to welcome active duty military parents to read books about military life. Use your organization’s funds to gift each classroom a copy of a special book about military kids. Some of our favorites include Night Catch, A Paper Hug, and Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops.
5. Highlight Military Kids All Month
If your school has a marquee, use it to announce Month of the Military Child. Use your social media accounts to highlight different students. You can even create a hashtag like “Military Monday” and share interesting facts about the military in your community. It would also be fun to highlight teachers or staff with military connections. If you have a daily news show, have military guests read the news or participate in a segment with their child.
6. Connect With School Liaison Officers
Did you know that each military installation in your area has a School Liaison Officer? They are familiar with the unique aspects of military life that can have an effect on a student’s education. They help to build partnerships between military families, installations, and schools and act as the Installation’s point of contact for all things school-related. They are an excellent resource for building community with military families. If you don’t know who your SLO is, a worldwide list is available here.
7. Connect With Military Organizations
There are so many great organizations whose mission is to support military kids and families. Connect with these groups for ideas on how to support your military families. Many have programs specifically designed to build community among military families and civilians.
Blue Star Families welcomes military and civilians to join and gain access to innovative programs aimed at bringing communities together. Membership is often free or a small fee.
Military Child Education Coalition is another great organization with the mission of supporting all military-connected children by educating, advocating, and collaborating to resolve education challenges associated with the military lifestyle. They have an excellent toolkit for Month of the Military Child celebrations including graphics for social media and free printable certificates.
Showing your support and acknowledging the uniqueness of the military lifestyle helps transitioning military kids succeed in the classroom and their community. Choose one or all of these ideas to celebrate. Military kids and their families will appreciate the recognition so much.